Canada sells 16 helicopters to Philippines after drug war row

The Bell 412EPI choppers will be brought to the country as President Rodrigo Duterte re-focuses the program

The Bell 412EPI choppers will be brought to the country as President Rodrigo Duterte re-focuses the program

President Rodrigo Duterte's order, issued in a news conference Friday, came after the Canadian government made a decision to review the $300-million helicopter deal because of concerns the Philippine military might use the utility helicopters in counterinsurgency assaults.

"We have very clear rules around who and what we can sell either arms of potential military vehicles like helicopters and controls-on what they intend to be used for and checks in how they are used", Trudeau said.

Last year, Duterte earlier promised that he would purchase 23 armed helicopters to help them fight terrorists and other enemies of the state.

Duterte said that he can not guarantee that the helicopters will not be used in combat operations in the future.

"The president's troubling comments only underscore the confusion and contradictions that have emerged recently on the intended end use of the helicopters", said a spokesperson for Champagne on Friday.

Government officials initially defended the $233 million deal, which is being facilitated by the Canadian Commercial Corp., saying the helicopters would be used for search-and-rescue missions and disaster relief.

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Duterte said while he did not question Canada's logic, his logic was based on "reality on the ground".

But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also raised concerns about extrajudicial killings while visiting the country in November, specifically those related to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's violent crackdown on illegal drugs.

"It angers me when you are a foreigner, you do not know what exactly is happening in this country". The country is also regularly battered by typhoons.

The two governments announced the deal less than three months after Duterte and Trudeau clashed.

"President Duterte's government has achieved global notoriety for its blatant disregard of basic human rights and its systematic threats against human rights activists", Jaramillo said in an email.

Bensouda has said in the past that she was deeply concerned about reports of the killings, and that statements by "high officials" in the Philippines "seem to condone such killings".

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